Professor given highest architecture award

By By Ana Breton and By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Professor William Miller was awarded this year’s American Institute of Architects Bronze Medal Award, the highest award given to architects in Utah. The award recognizes either a significant body of architectural work, or in Miller’s case, a lasting contribution through teaching and service to the profession.

Miller has been working as an educator for more than 30 years and has taught a range of courses including a survey of world architecture, history and theory and case studies classes. He also served as the dean of the College of Architecture and Planning from 1992 to 2002.

Miller said receiving the award, which is given by the AIA’s Utah chapter, was a great honor. He said that when he graduated from college, he couldn’t see himself as anything but a teacher. Miller didn’t necessarily want to be an architect because he found “education more interesting than the practice,” he said.

“I like dealing with students and the ideas they generate. I really enjoy working with them,” Miller said. “I think that the rewarding thing in teaching is that you get to see a great number of students graduate into great professions.”

Brenda Scheer, who is the dean of the graduate school of architecture, replaced Miller as dean six years ago. She said Miller has helped the U and its architecture program gain recognition throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

“He has really helped to establish the university’s presence with the architectural community,” Scheer said. “He has helped us reconnect with local firms, and locally he has been an advocate for architecture in the community.”

Scheer said Miller also contributed greatly to the Salt Lake City Public Library project by researching libraries across the country when it was being built. She said the library is “an instrumental gem for downtown” Salt Lake City. Miller is also working with the remodeling project for the new federal courthouse.

Miller said he first began to grow an interest in architecture when he was younger because many of his family’s friends were architects. He said he was hooked on the subject after countless conversations and visits with them and continues to love the subject today.

“I love architecture because it’s constantly changing and evolving and developing as society changes and culture changes,” Miller said. “It also changes in terms of teaching. As waves of students come and go, you get to know who they are and what they are.”

Miller has previously served on the board of directors of both the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the National Architectural Accrediting Board. He is currently a member of the Architects Licensing Board for the State of Utah, a position he has held since 1997. Miller was recently appointed to a four-year term on the AIA Educator/Practitioner Network Advisory Committee, which focuses on the relationships between the profession and practice.

“Bill is an exemplary educator and scholar,” said Sharon Matthews, an AIA member, in a written statement. “But it is through his actions in service to architecture and the education of our profession’s future practitioners that he has excelled.”

Although the award comes with no monetary prize, Miller said he was satisfied with the meaning behind the plaque he received.

“It came with no fortune,” Miller said. “Just glory and fame, I guess.”

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